Driving The Green Agenda…. Down the High Street
The ethical high street offers an opportunity to both retailers and consumers. Creativity, human innovation and consumerism do not need to lack in social awareness. So why should this practice stop at the retailer or the consumer when the delivery service can be just as Green?
Retailers have recently made significant strides into ethical and sustainable products. Using recyclable materials and good business practices companies can take advantage of the emerging socially conscious consumer. And the retailer’s delivery partner can also take advantage of this. With a greater emphasis on reducing waste, couriers can innovate logistics and save on money.
Consumer watchdogs like EthicalConsumer analyse how leading high street brands perform to ethical and environmental standards. This expands to their supply chains too. By investigating end-to-end supply chains closely, retailers can ensure that, for example, those employed by overseas suppliers are paid appropriately.
As yet not all retailers maintain standards as high as Zara Clothing or H&M, ranked first and second on the EthicalConsumer retail list. But delivery companies and ethical retailers can encourage others to follow suit and set a high standard in both partnerships and innovation. Traditionally consumers considered ethical shopping as an option with a higher price tag and that sensible or ethical consumerism required a degree of ‘sacrifice’. This outlook is now an outdated one. H&M is a lower-priced fashion retailer which ranks highly on ethical and environmental scoring.
If anything this process will make the consumer shopping experience even more convenient. For example, the use of ‘city hubs’ streamlines the delivery process. Orders from ASOS, eBay and Amazon could be bundled together and delivered by a single courier, designated by the customer. This cuts down on city congestion, emission rates, fuel consumption and driver resource.
David Jinks from international courier service ParcelHero®, said: “The really innovative idea is that delivery journeys can include ‘urban mining’: a process to facilitate the removal and disposal of valuable, and resalable (after processing) waste. The delivery to the customer carries goods from the hub to a residential address, while the return journey can transport recyclable waste back to the hub, where it is collected by a partner waste management company.”
“The idea of ensuring the delivery vehicle’s return journey back to the hub is not wasted, by building in a reverse logistics operation, makes enormous sense. It means items such as batteries, old shavers and obsolete PCs can be easily disposed of by householders, and safely reclaimed for recycling.”
Two pilot urban mining schemes are currently running in the Netherlands. The Dutch towns of Maastricht and Nijmegen are trialling a Freight Circle service to ensure local business’ and customer deliveries are shipped into one aggregated freight hub and then delivered to the consumer. On the return trip couriers transport unwanted items from the recipients house.
The consumer does nothing but gain. Who doesn’t want a better and more convenient service with the option of using the very same van to remove unwanted items? Combined with urban mining, the waste and recycling industry gains a more efficient method of waste collection. This then saves the consumer the inconvenience of transporting waste materials to disposal sites.
These schemes are even subsidised by the EU. The Dutch Freight Circle scheme is being supported by project LaMiLo (Last Mile Logistics), which is EU funded. However, ParcelHero® argues it is equally relevant to the UK and the US. David Jinks said: “The UK is already on the brink of such services, the London Borough of Camden’s freight consolidation scheme is a good example. As the idea of freight hubs develop it will be easy to incorporate urban mining type recycling initiatives.”
Urban mining was also a success during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The capital utilised city hubs and decreased congestion rates. This idea could be easily implemented across other UK cities and those in Europe and the USA.
Moreover, a reduction in congestion is another easy win for people and the environment. Jinks continues: “Research has already proved that home deliveries have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a traditional car journey to the supermarket. The delivery industry should embrace ideas such as freight hubs and urban mining to ensure our cities are even greener in the future.”
The UK is currently attempting to hit an EU air quality increase target for 2020. Schemes like this would certainly go some way to achieving that. Roads partially freed from large volumes of delivery vehicles, especially in heavily populated cities like London, which is already under increased pressure from the EU to decrease its embarrassingly high emission levels, can only be beneficial. City hubs and urban mining go a long way towards achieving that objective. Courier groups and retailers just need to keep pressing forward with a greener agenda.